One of the reasons the show The Office was such a big hit is that the characters, though dramatized, were totally relatable. They represented every annoying co-worker in your office.
The reality is that we spend quite a bit of time with the people we work with—sometimes more than we spend with our families. An unfortunate side effect is that occasionally, these people drive you nuts.
There’s the guy that always shows up late and never takes deadlines seriously. There’s the girl that spreads office gossip like wildfire. And then there’s the guy that would do practically anything to impress the CEO.
We are all too aware of the annoying coworkers around us, but it’s possible that we might be one of them, too. Read on to learn who the main protagonists are, how to deal with them, and possibly, learn which one you most closely identify with.
It’s 3 PM, your productivity is steadily declining and the co-worker clicking their pen as they sing along to the radio is not helping you get your work done. Unfortunately, you are working next to The Distractor. This person is rarely on topic and constantly coming to your with unrelated topics to your work. When they aren’t chatting with you, they are talking way too loudly on their phone. It’s impossible not to eavesdrop. In order to get your work done in a calm and collected manner, you’ll need to stay focused around The Distractor.
How to Deal: Noise-cancelling headphones are your new best friend. Not only will these drown out The Distractor ever-present commotion, it will also be a clear indicator that you are not in the mood to talk. If you find yourself frustrated, try taking a walk outside and taking the chance to clear your head. By the time you come back to your desk, you’ll be refreshed and ready to get back on task.
Have you ever walked into the office kitchen, asked your coworker how their weekend was and 20 minutes later, you’re still standing there? The oversharer loves to talk—and mostly about themselves. They’re nice, but their penchant for the sound of their own voice is exhausting. Every story becomes about them, because they just can't help themselves.
How to Deal: Sometimes, the best way to deal with the oversharer is to avoid them. Or, cut convos short with a looming to-do. "Sorry, runnning to a meeting" works every time.
You know exactly who this is, the co-worker that has the latest update on all things Kardashian as well as the latest workplace fling. They have no problem sharing the latest scoop with you, most likely in a hushed tone. Although the Gossip can keep things entertaining, they can also suck you into their black hole of back talking. Be warned: if the Gossip is talking to you about others, don’t be surprised when they talk about you, too.
How to Deal: Offer short neutral, responses. The Gossip is looking for a reaction, if you keep your side of the conversation uninterested, they will eventually move on to their next victim.
Related Article: Ask Evil HR Lady: What Do You Do When Your Coworkers Are Stuck in 9th Grade?
The Debby Downer
If you avoid asking your coworker how they’re doing or feeling because you know the answer you’re going to get, they are the Debby Downer. At meetings, all they bring to the table are critiques and negative responses. This annoying co-worker acts as if they have a personal gray cloud looming over them at all times of the day. You remember seeing them smile once, but that was because they got off work early.
How to Deal: Like the Gossip, it’s easy to get pulled into their complaints, but do your best to bring positivity into the conversation. When they think of a problem, offer a solution instead of feeding their complaints
Ever since elementary school, we have had to pick up the extra work the Slacker leaves behind. They take the motto, “work smarter, not harder” a little too seriously and continue to do the bare minimum for every project. This co-worker arrives late, leaves early and insists their regular two hour lunch break is completely acceptable. It makes sense that they take three days to respond to any e-mail, because when are they ever at work? If you and your team have suffered from the Slacker’s work ethic, there are a few solutions for you.
How to Deal: Try to delegate responsibilities amongst your team and assign each person specific tasks. This way, the Slacker is directly responsible for the work they put out. Dealing with The Slacker can be incredibly difficult, try not to act directly frustrated or annoyed at them as this could cause more problems than solutions. If the situation becomes extreme, alert your manager with specific examples about how The Slacker is not performing their required duties.
The Eager Beaver
Not unlike the brown-noser, the eager beaver is SUPER HAPPY to be at work! But instead of seeking constant approval from the boss, they’re charging ahead and blazing their own trail. Nervous energy and stress follow the eager beaver, because they regularly bite off more than they can chew. They are know-it-alls obsessed with climbing the corporate ladder, and work nights and weekends in order to make it happen. Blood, sweat and tears are the only way for the Eager Beaver.
How to Deal: Don’t compare yourself to this one. In stark contrast to the Slacker, the Eager Beaver works harder, not smarter. They are more than willing to do anything and everything, but that does not make for success. Most times, it’s best to just get out of their way.
Oh, the Slob. You’re not sure how they can even find their keyboard with all the trash (and not to mention, last week’s lunch) sitting on their desk. The tissue box sitting next to their computer is more of a decoration than actual necessity considering they still manage to sneeze without covering their mouth. The Slob is a walking petri dish of the latest cold symptoms and they have no problem coming into work whether they have the sniffles or Mad Cow Disease.
How to Deal: Bring hand sanitizer. No time is ever good for you to get sick, so take extra precautions in avoiding contact with contaminated items. Offer them a bottle too (maybe even a Costco-sized one). If you’re in a managerial position, allow the Slob to work at home when they’re ill and ask they clean their desk at the end of the day. Small changes can make a big difference for the Slob, do your part to help them see the light.
The Brown Noser
The Suck Up. The Yes Man. The Spineless Jellyfish. This co-worker will do whatever it takes to get that next promotion, pay raise or the acceptance of those around them. The Brown Noser doesn’t work for what they want, but rather thrives off of the approval of others, most likely your boss. Don’t worry, most managers can tell the difference between an agreeable worker and an effective one. Where their a** kissing prevails, their productivity lacks which will work to their disadvantage in the long-run.
How to Deal: The best way to deal with the Brown Noser is to simply ignore them. If your boss doesn’t notice your co-worker’s hidden agenda now, it will eventually be apparent that the Brown Noser has no original ideas.